Wild throw gives Red Sox the edge over Cubs in extras at Wrigley
Of the myriad duties that come with managing a major league team, making in-game decisions has to be one of the toughest things to grow into.
Do I pinch hit here? Do we hit and run? Is it time to pull the starting pitcher? Does a bunt make sense now that we're in extra innings?
So, how does David Ross feel about his personal evolution now that he's halfway into his third season as the Cubs' skipper?
"Experience has taught me a lot and the confidence in making moves and how to use certain pieces on the bench," Ross said before the Cubs dropped a 4-2 decision to Boston in 11 innings at Wrigley Field on Sunday. "(The) main thing for me is (thinking) ahead a couple innings. It was moving fast early in my career and that's gotten better each and every time out, really. ...
"I continue to grow every day."
As a former catcher, Ross seems to have a good idea of when to activate baserunners. He called for a rare double steal in the seventh inning Sunday, sending Rafael Ortega and Willson Contreras with the Cubs down 2-1.
It nearly worked, but Contreras was thrown out at second because his left foot came off the bag as shortstop Xander Bogaerts applied the tag to the right foot. Bogaerts' knee was blocking the bag, and Contreras adjusted his slide to avoid causing a potential injury.
"If I hit him in the knee, probably could have been (bad)," Contreras said. "But I didn't have a bad intention of hitting him. ... I talked to the umpire about the play and he said he's allowed to block the base. But if I run through him, I could be safe."
Ross had no regrets about his decision.
"We have a group that grinds and pays attention and has really good baseball feel. I love the effort," he said. "It was a really nice throw by Vazquez on the back side to get Willy, but I love when we are able to take chances and do that without hesitation.
"We've done a really nice job of that this year."
Patrick Wisdom launched a 450-foot home run into the left-field bleachers to tie the game at 2-2 in the eighth. Wisdom fell to his butt on the previous pitch, a high fastball by Matt Strahm that buzzed near Wisdom's head.
"Especially that one, it felt good," said Wisdom, who leads the Cubs with 17 HRs. "Sitting on the ground (I was) just trying to gather my thoughts and flush it, if you will."
Wisdom, who threw out automatic runner Alex Verdugo at home for the second out of the 10th inning, popped out to shallow left in the bottom half of the frame with runners on first and second and nobody out. Nico Hoerner (fly out) and P.J. Higgins (strikeout) were also retired, killing a glorious chance for the Cubs to pull off a sweep.
Boston scored twice in the 11th, with both runs scoring after pitcher Rowan Wick threw wildly to first base trying to get Trevor Story, who hit a slow dribbler short of the mound. Wick set and fired, but the ball sailed well over David Bote's head, and Bobby Dalbec and Christian Arroyo raced home.
Boston went up 2-1 in the fourth inning, thanks in large part to second baseman Christopher Morel losing a pop up in the sun with runners on first and second. The ball ended up bouncing off Anthony Rivas' glove for a single and going for an RBI single.
In the big picture, the Cubs (32-47) continue to play solid ball. They are 7-4 in their last 11 games and are hitting .293 with a .377 on-base percentage over that time.
"We can compete with anybody. I think we've shown that," Ross said. "We've played some really good games against really tough teams. It's nice to win series, and we were in that game right til the end, right?
"So continue to chug along -- a lot of season left. Guys are grinding, man. It's a fun group."